Dave Johnson: Wizards Lose With More Drama


Dave Johnson: Wizards Lose With More Drama

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 10:01pm

Bobcats vs. Wizards Game Highlights & Postgame Report

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashigton.comWashington----Since the NBA All-Star Break Andray Blatche has been the focal point of the Washington Wizards. Against the Charlotte Bobcats, Blatche again was the center of attention, but for the wrong reason in a 95-86 overtime defeat that extended the Wizards losing streak to twelve games.Blatche was benched 7:31 into the first quarter and did not return. In the end the Bobcats took advantage of Blatches absence and outscored the Wizards 13-4 in overtime. Gerald Wallace and Boris Diaw each led the Bobcats with 17 points. Mike Miller topped the Wizards with 15 points.I took him (Blatche) out of the game and wanted to talk to him about not getting back on defense, explained Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. He didnt want to hear it. I told him if you dont come and talk, you are not going to play. We had coaches go up to him three different times and he said he didnt want to play.In fifteen years I have never seen anything like it, Saunders added. He (Blatche) can be pissed at me or what ever but you never leave your teammates hanging out to dry like that no matter what. Especially when you have lost eleven games in a row and have a chance to win. Thats uncalled for.Minus Blatche, the Wizards managed to forge ahead and become more competitive on the boards and were able to build a 44-38 half-time lead. After getting outrebounded 12-6 in the first quarter, the Wizards had the edge in rebounds in the second quarter 16-14 and limited the Bobcats to only 11 points.James Singleton, who replaced Blatche in the first quarter, provided what has become his typical energy boost off the bench and his six rebounds in that second quarter were critical in allowing the Wizards to pull ahead. At the point- guard position, Shaun Livingston is looking more and more confident. Livingston is not only helping the Wizards get into their offense, but he is getting more aggressive in his own drives top the basket.The play of Singleton and Livingston steadied the Wizards through the middle quarters and put them in a position to win with a 65-64 lead after three quarters. It changed abruptly in the final quarter as the Wizards struggled with the Bobcats trapping defense.There was just no flow to the Wizards offense in the fourth quarter as they often found themselves deep in the shot clock because of the Bobcats full-court pressure and traps just across mid-court.It was not much better for the Bobcats as they shot 4 of 15 from the field over the final 12 minutes, but they were able to get to the free throw line and get the Wizards in foul trouble. In the fourth quarter the Bobcats were in the bonus with 8:41 remaining and they made 10 of 16 free throws after attempting only 12 free throws over the first three quartersThey beat you in the paint and they pound you. (Gerald) Wallace is such a great rebounder, but they do it off of penetration, Saunders noted. They penetrate you and take up your help and they get second shot opportunities. Our guys fought and we had guys who were in foul trouble who kept fighting and in overtime we just went out of gas.Still the Wizards pushed the Bobcats to the brink. JaVale McGee had 7 of his 14 points in the final quarter including a put-back with 16.1 seconds left in regulation to pull the Wizards within one point at 80-79. McGee also finished with 12 rebounds.Then after Stephen Jackson made two free-throws to put the Bobcats up 82-78 with 15.3 seconds, an improbable hero emerged. Al Thornton navigated through full court pressure and instead of passing to a three-point shooter like Randy Foye or Nick Young, calmly positioned himself on the wing and stepped back to nail a 24-foot jumper with 8.7 seconds on the clock.I know we needed a three and I was just trying to get to the line and get a good look, Thornton recalled. I knew if I was able to get to the line I was going to be able to elevate and get a good look and hopefully it would go in.The Wizards made one more stop in regulation, but overtime was not to be the Wizards time. Foul trouble caught up with the Wizards and both McGee and Thornton picked up their sixth fouls within the first two minutes of overtime.In short the extra five minutes belonged to the Bobcats. The Wizards struggled to create any kind of offense and the absence of Blatche, who can not only create his own shot but open the floor by drawing a double-team, was magnified.We definitely could have used Dray out there, Thornton said. He could have added a lot of scoring and rebounding. He typically is our go to guy down the stretch.Saunders, however, was not tempted to bring Blatche back into the game. In his post- game press conference Saunders was as angry as he has ever been in a season full of woe.When a coach wants to teach you something and you think you are above that because you have played 16 good games, Saunders said I had Kevin Garnett and that guy youd say one thing and he would say what you want coach? He wanted to get better every time. He never copped that kind of attitude.He (Blatche) thinks I yell at him because he takes bad shots, continued Saunders. He has taken twice as many shots as anybody. I dont; yell at guys for taking bad shots. I might tell him to go to the basket more instead of settling, but you know what that is my job. If you dont want to be coached, you are in the wrong spot.

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How one half of assertive basketball may turn around the Wizards' season

How one half of assertive basketball may turn around the Wizards' season

The fat lady wasn’t warming up to sing an operatic number, not with 66 games left in the regular season. Then the flailing Washington Wizards, coming off consecutive double-digit losses, came out flat yet again. They trailed the Los Angeles Clippers by 19 points at halftime some 36 hours after the general public heard about their private quarrels and following weeks of basketball nightmares. 

So, she might have at least begun some mental prep for an upcoming performance. Then came the comeback within the comeback. The Wizards rallied for a 125-118 win when all the world was ready to say sayonara. 

Did Washington indeed save its season by outscoring Los Angeles 71-45 in the second half?

Answering 'yes' presumes all is right with the gang that has struggled to defend throughout the season and possibly has chemistry issues even a family therapist couldn’t fix with thrice-weekly sessions. 

The day began with coach Scott Brooks and the team’s stars addressing leaks of intense arguments among players and a scolding by All-Star John Wall directed to the head coach. There was no spark initially, just a dismal first half that saw them down 24 points and 73-54 at halftime.

The first half served as a season-long microcosm. It’s why rumors of breaking up the team seemed plausible. 

Over the remaining 24 minutes, the Wizards finally woke up. They flew around the court defensively and passed to the open man. The stars played like a team wanting to play each other, willing to do whatever necessary for a win.

John Wall finished with 30 points. Bradley Beal scored 27. Otto Porter grabbed 14 rebounds to go with 11 points. Six players scored in double figures. Everybody ate. 

“That’s how we need to play,” Bradley Beal told NBC Sports Washington.

“Not going to say everything is fixed because we were still down [24 points], still have a lot of work to do. Got a lot of to change and get better. Our effort was there in the second half. That’s the type of intensity we have to have for the full 48.”

Numerous moments and performances stood out in the second half beyond the main players. Tomas Satoransky’s hustle helped begin the turnaround. Thomas Bryant, who started with Dwight Howard sidelined, provided interior energy. Jeff Green dropped 20 points. Markieff Morris, coming off the bench for the first time since Feb. 29, 2016, showed more than in recent games.

One play deep in the fourth quarter showed the difference between 16 games of defensive slumber and Tuesday’s resolve. 

The clock ticked under five minutes with Los Angeles leading 109-107. Clippers forward Tobias Harris crushed the Wizards early and finished with 29 points. He had the ball near the left corner when Wall and Beal sprung an aggressive trap as the shot clock wound down. Morris hustled for support. The late arrival helped. Shot clock violation. The Wizards then took the lead with a Morris 3-pointer. They soon pulled away with an 11-2 run. Their main players showed the way.

“We have to,” Beal said to NBC Sports Washington. “When it’s coming from the main guys. John and I have to give more, more and more. That’s something we realize and tell each other that. That’s that only way we’re going to get out of it. We just have to give more.”

The Thanksgiving holiday provides a natural break.

Washington resumes game action Friday at Toronto. At 6-11, the Wizards have to do, but at least they can catch their breath after a surreal span. 

“It’s a whirlwind. It’s a whirlwind,” Beal said. “We embrace it. Everything is a challenge. It’s adversity. We’ve been in this situation before. We’ve been in this situation where everybody thinks we have an issue. I think we did a great job of ignoring it as best we could. Doing what we could to get a win. A  much-needed win at that.”

Clippers coach Doc Rivers monitors the Wizards because of his son, Austin, Beal’s primary backup. More film work came leading into the second meeting between the teams. Los Angeles hammered Washington 136-104 on Oct. 28. Things were only getting worse for the Wizards. Then came the second half.

“They just forgot about the stuff they’re going through and got back to playing basketball,” Doc Rivers said of the Wizards.

“I’ve always thought that’s what you have to do. Every guy out there on both teams, they played basketball all their lives. Then you get all the, what I call ‘stuff.’ The clutter starts affecting your game. Tonight you could see the clutter was killing them early. Then when they saw they had a chance to win, they started playing basketball again.”

Assume nothing but sunshine and swishes going forward if you must. Ideally, the Wizards do not. They have work remaining. In the second half against the Clippers, Wall, Beal, and crew rose up. In doing so, the fat lady took a seat.

We’ll see for how long.


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Markieff Morris unhappy with leaks coming out of Wizards' locker room

Markieff Morris unhappy with leaks coming out of Wizards' locker room

The Wizards had just completed a 24-point comeback against the L.A. Clippers, but something wasn't sitting right with power forward Markieff Morris.

When asked by a reporter if it was nice to get the win given their recent losing and the media controversy surrounding the team, Morris couldn't help but wonder who it was who leaked comments made by players behind closed doors at a practice last week.

There were very specific quotes cited by several media outlets and Morris wants to know where they came from. 

"It's f***ed up what's going on," he said.

"The comments that's coming from the locker room, that's f***ed up."

Morris went on to say that anonymous sources leaking information shouldn't "happen in sports." Many professional athletes see the locker room and team-only events like practice as sacred. Anyone who breaks that code is, in their eyes, a traitor.

If Morris knew who the information came from, it sounds like he would do something about it.

"I don't know who it is, so it's hard to address. But it's messed up," he said.

Which player or member of the organization spilled the beans could be a question for this team all season. It doesn't sound like Morris will forget that it happened.